2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Hour 18 Update – Mazda Drop Out as GTD Heats Up


Credit: Richard Dole/LAT Images, Courtesy of IMSA

As the sun started to rise at the Daytona International Speedway, the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona saw a sudden shift in pace as a Full Course Yellow saw the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing was pushed into the garage for a quick service after losing water during the night causing overheating, while not losing too much time.

The #86 Michael Shank Racing car had caused the caution after an off track extersion, while Mazda ran into further trouble.

The #5 had had a comfortable lead of almost two laps to the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing until the stop. Pace was clearly not quick though, with the team rumoured to be giving their drivers minimal sleep. They’ve benefited so far from few FCY’s but a flurry of yellows later on could allow their rivals back into contention.

After extensive issues earlier on, the #55 Mazda Team Joest came to a fiery end on the infield with the engine setting ablaze while Jonathan Bomorito was at the wheel. He exited the car safely as marshals put out the fire.

They had been running fifteenth in class at the time, ending any chance of a top ten recovery, while the sister #77 driven by Tristan Nunez was later pushed in as well.

As for Colin Braun in the #54 CORE Autosports car he continued to make inroads towards third place, with the #32 United Autosport‘s machine now only a lap ahead.

Elsewhere, the #10 Cadillac DPi-VR that had pulled off earlier, was officially added to the retirement list.

In GTLM, the story remained very much one of Ford GT domination with the #67 taking its time towards the front of the class. It was far from over though, with the #3 Corvette Racing remaining just one lap down as they move into daylight where the team has traditionally been strongest in previous years.

As the hour started in GTD, Katherine Legge in the #86 Acura NSX GT3 had been catching the leader in class with the daylight proving to be the biggest challenge to the Lamborghini Huracan‘s domination. Legge found herself under investigation though, having run off the circuit, through an advertising banner before rejoining at the International Horseshoe in front of other vehicles. Debris and broken sandbags would later cause a FCY.

This initially released some pressure on the leading #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Hurican, though the team ended the hour behind the #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports after a pitstop.

The field went back to Green Flag on the hour mark.

TOP 3 AFTER 18 HOURS

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#5 Mustang Sampling Racing – Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi

#31 Whelen Engineering Racing – Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr, Mike Conway, Stuart Middleton

#32 United Autosports Ligier – Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen

GTLM

#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing– Scott Dixon, Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe

#3 Corvette Racing – Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Mike Rockenfeller

GTD

#33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley – Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Adam Christodoulou, Luca Stolz

#48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini – Bryan Sellers, Maddison Snow, Andrea Calderelli, Bryce Miller

#86 Michael Shank Racing – Acura – Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente, Trent Hindman, AJ Almendinger